TYPES OF FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATIONAccording to the World Health Organization (WHO), female genital mutilation may beclassified into four major categories.
The first type is called clitoridectomy. It involves the totalor partial removal of the clitoris (a sensitive, small and erectile part of the female genitals), andin rare cases only the prepuce, that is, the fold of skin surrounding the clitoris. The second form of female genital cutting is referred to as excision. This type involves the total or partial removalof the clitoris and the labia minora, that is, the inner fold of the vulva.
The third type is referredto as infibulation. This form of female genital cutting encompasses the narrowing of the openingof the vagina by creating a covering seal, which is created by cutting and repositioning the labiamajora or labia minora, sometimes via stitching, with or without removing the clitoris. The lasttype includes all the other harmful procedures to the genital organs of a female for reasons thatare not medical, including cauterizing the genital area, scraping, incising, piercing, and pricking(Cappa, Claudia, Moneti, Wardlaw, and Bissell, 2013, 1087).EFFECTS OF FEMALE GENITAL MUTILATIONDespite the belief that female genital mutilation has health benefits, research has shownthat the practice does not have any health benefit.
Essentially, the practice harms women andgirls in several ways. It encompasses removing and damaging normal and healthy female genitaltissues, and disturbs the natural functions of a woman or girl’s body. The risks of the procedurerise with the increase in the severity of the procedure. However, the effects may be eitherimmediate or long-term consequences (Eisold, 2016, 280).
When the practice is performed with rudimentary methods and no anesthesia, theimmediate effects may include severe pain, hemorrhage, swelling of the genital tissues, fever,infections, urinary problems, shock, wound healing challenges, and even death. In Kenya, forinstance, Patrick Ngigi, who operates a haven for girls, says that there are some instances whereparticipants die due to excessive bleeding. He adds that the perpetrators are not qualifiedphysicians: they are just village women. Consequently, they lack the skills of knowing how tostop the bleeding emanating from the cut, and at times, the initiates end up losing their lives(Patra, Shraboni, and Rakesh, 2015, 49). Additionally, Female genital cutting has various long-term consequences to the initiates.
Improper healing and tissue damage caused by the rudimentary cutting techniques lead to severalcomplications. The participants may suffer from chronic vulva pain due to unprotected ortrapped nerve endings. Keloid scars, common among individuals from African descent, comeabout due to persistent overgrowth of dense fibrous tissue after the healing of a wound. Therehave been reports of many cases of clitoral epidermal inclusion cysts.
Cysts stigmatize sociallyespecially when they affect sitting or walking or when the spouse is aware of them (Eisold, 2016,284).Furthermore, female genital mutilation causes urological effects. Any form of cuttingmay lead to the damage of the urethra. Infibulation leads to slow, painful micturition; recurrenturinary tract infections; urinary retention; and dribbling of urinary incontinence. Also, womenwho undergo infibulation face increased instances of dysmenorrhea as a result of congestionemanating from obstructed menstrual flow. In many instances, victims of this practice do notunderstand the cause of their problems, unless they receive insights about the practice from ahealthcare professional or an educational program (Eisold, 2016, 286).Additionally, female genital mutilation is associated with obstetric and perinatalcomplications.
In a 2006 study funded by the World Health Organization, 28,393 individualsfrom twenty-eight obstetric centers in Sudan, Senegal, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana, and Burkina Fasowere examined. The study revealed that circumcised women faced a higher risk for low birthweight, early neonatal death or still birth, infant resuscitation, extended maternal hospital stay,postpartum hemorrhage, and caesarian section. The rise in the risk of the aforementioned casesincreased with the extent of the cut: women who had infibulation (type III cut) had a risk rate of69% for postpartum hemorrhage, a 55% increased risk of neonatal death or still birth, a 66% increased risk of needing infant resuscitation, and a 98% increased risk of prolonged hospitalstay (Farage, Miller, Ghebre, Tzeghai, Azuka, Sobel, and William, 2015, 83).
Similarly, Female genital cutting affects women’s sexual health. Research found on thesexual health of women who have been circumcised differ in methodology, place, types andquality of the cutting, making substantive conclusions hard. A meta-analysis of seventeencomparative studies of uncut and cut women, involving 12,755 women, concluded that there wasinsufficient evidence from which to draw conclusions regarding the social and psychologicaleffects of the practice. The study suggested that circumcised women are most likely to encounterpain during sex, low sexual desire, and low sexual satisfaction, but the evidence quality wasbelieved to be too low to be used to conclude that there is a causal relationship with femalegenital mutilation (Farage, Miller, Ghebre, Tzeghai, Azuka, Sobel, and William, 2015, 85).